As with the rise of Windows 8 and 8.1, the dramatic fall of XP was difficult to explain: Businesses have been shedding the OS this year -- and long before -- but even Microsoft has said that laggards' migrations were slowing in the second half of 2014.
Windows 7 remained the most popular operating system by a wide margin, even with the boost to its successor. In October, Windows 7 gained another three-tenths of a percentage point to average 53% of all personal computers for the month, a record high. Windows 7 accounted for 58% of all Windows devices.
Another analytics company, Ireland's StatCounter, posted different numbers for Windows' various editions. StatCounter tapped October's Windows 8 and 8.1 usage share -- unlike Net Applications' statistics, StatCounter's represents how active users of each operating system are on the Web -- at 16.9%, an increase of 1.1 percentage points.
StatCounter's Windows 7 and XP figures were 54.9% and 13.2%, respectively. The latter was down 1.2 percentage points, about one-fifth of the decline measured by its rival Net Applications.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.